Abu Huzaifa al-Kanadi

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Abu Huzaifa al-Kanadi
NationalityPakistani Canadian
EducationMadrassa in Pakistan (claimed), Canadian university in Toronto (currently)
Abu Huzaifa al-Kanadi
Other name(s)Abu Huzaifa the Canadian
BornToronto
Allegiance ISIS (2014–2016)
Years of service2014–2016
RankFormer recruit
Battles/warsManbij

Shehroze Chaudhry, also known as Abu Huzaifa al-Kanadi ("Abu Huzaifa the Canadian"), is a self-described member of the Islamic State terrorist group and alleged hoaxer. He claimed that he joined ISIS in 2014 after emptying his bank account and visiting Syria. An ongoing criminal case against 25 year old Shehroze Chaudhry alleges his involvement with ISIS was a hoax.[1] His real name was originally unknown to the public and he agreed to speak to Canada's CBC News on condition that it would not be revealed.[2] Chaudhry has been counselled by Canadian Security Intelligence Service agent Mubin Shaikh. He returned to Canada in 2016; rumours that he lives in the Toronto area have circulated. In 2018, he said in the New York Times Caliphate podcast that he murdered two people while fighting for ISIS. Members of the Conservative Party called for him to be found and arrested, and after many of his claims were found to be false, he was placed under investigation in September 2020, and in December the New York Times returned one award won by the podcast and was stripped of another.

Background[edit]

Shehroze Chaudhry was raised in or near Toronto, Canada, and went to Pakistan as a teenager to study.[3] He claimed he studied at a Pakistani madrassa in 2013.[2] He told his parents he would go to Turkey for a semester abroad and booked a flight from Lahore to Istanbul using his Pakistani passport.[2] Prior to leaving Toronto in 2014, he cleaned out his bank account.[2] He returned to Canada in 2016 and is currently attending a university in the Toronto area.[2]

Islamic State member[edit]

Chaudhry claimed to The New York Times that he left Canada in 2014 to join the Islamic State group. Upon arrival in Turkey, he says he was met by a former resident of Mississauga—a city in the Greater Toronto Area—and visited the Syria–Turkey border town of Jarabulus to cross into Syria at night.[2] He says he entered Manbij, a city located north-east of Aleppo that had a population of about 100,000 people.[2] He stated that he trained for a few weeks and was assigned to al-Hisba, an Islamic police force enforcing Sharia law.[2] He claimed to have used several hundred dollars to purchase a rifle, a Glock pistol, an ISIS military uniform, and other tactical gear decorated with ISIS badges.[2] He said he made friends with other foreign fighters from Australia and Finland.[2] He met Mohammad Ali of Mississauga, also known as Abu Turaab al-Kanadi, who was the only Canadian he met.[2] He also stated that he knew about André Poulin, a Muslim convert from Timmins, Ontario, who was known as Abu Muslim al-Kanadi.[2]

In the 2018 New York Times Caliphate podcast series hosted by Rukmini Callimachi, Chaudhry said he had murdered people while fighting for the Islamic State.[4] He escaped to Turkey, where he was arrested by authorities before being released a week later.[2] After his release, he returned to Pakistan and stayed for two years fighting before returning to Canada.[2]

Return to Canada[edit]

Chaudhry was counseled by Mubin Shaikh.

Upon his return, he had discussions with Callimachi; she stated that he initially felt confident that he had escaped law enforcement.[5] Former schoolmates described him as a "loner" and an "anti-social guy" without "many friends".[5] Chaudhry's background story was compared to those of Quebec Mosque shooter Alexandre Bissonnette and Toronto van attack suspect Alek Minassian.[5] A year after Chaudhry returned, he was interviewed by CBC News and stated that he saw violence on a scale he could "never imagine" when he fought for the Islamic State.[2] Mubin Shaikh stated that Huzaifi could be "rehabilitated" and that Canada needs to "have an eye" on him.[6]

Controversies[edit]

In September 2020 Shehroze Chaudhry was arrested by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police's O Division Integrated National Security Enforcement Team (OINSET) and charged with fabricating his accounts on social media and to CBC about his story of joining the Islamic State. As of September 2020, his case is ongoing.[1]

After Chaudhry said he fought for the Islamic State, Conservative MPs called for action against him.[7] Conservative politician Candice Bergen criticized Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Liberal government during Question Period for not ordering law enforcement to arrest him.[8] Bergen also called for Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale to reveal whether the government knew where Chaudhry was, but Goodale stated that doing so would be the "opposite of keeping Canadians safe".[9] Trudeau called questions about Chaudhry "divisive" and received criticism from conservative journalist Brian Lilley.[10] Chaudhry also received concerns from television journalist Diana Swain that he may be "lying" to The New York Times or CBC News.[11]

In December 2020, The New York Times retracted its reporting on Chaudhry in the Caliphate podcast, saying it "did not meet its standards for accuracy or fact-checking" and that they had no evidence that he had ever been to Syria.[12] The Times reassigned Callimachi and returned the Peabody Award won by the podcast, and the Overseas Press Club rescinded its Lowell Thomas Award.[13]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Sherie Chaudry terrorism hoax charge". Cbc news. Retrieved 26 September 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Baksh, Nazim; Lancester, John (11 September 2017). "Young Canadian ISIS recruit says he saw violence on scale he could never have imagined". CBS News.
  3. ^ Malcolm, Candice (15 June 2018). "Malcolm: Canadian jihadists are bolder than ever, meanwhile Trudeau weakens our laws". Toronto Sun.
  4. ^ Buller, Alice (5 June 2018). "New York Times podcast 'Caliphate' faces backlash over ethics". Arab News.
  5. ^ a b c Balkissoon, Denise (25 May 2018). "Canada's mysterious Islamic State returnee looks frighteningly familiar". The Globe and Mail.
  6. ^ MacDonald, Brennan; Kapelos, Vassy (24 May 2018). "Canada needs to 'have eyes' on returned ISIS fighter, says de-radicalization expert". CBC News.
  7. ^ "Conservative MPs call for action on self-described terror recruit for Daesh reportedly in Toronto". Toronto Star. The Canadian Press. 11 May 2018.
  8. ^ Fernando, Spencer (12 May 2018). "Watch: Bergen Rips Trudeau Government For Letting Confessed-ISIS Terrorist Come Back To Canada". Spencer Fernando.
  9. ^ Khandaker, Tamara (11 May 2018). "Politicians are freaking out over a podcast about returned Canadian ISIS fighter". Vice News.
  10. ^ Lilley, Brian (12 May 2018). "Trudeau worries that questions about a violent ISIS fighter are divisive". Brian Lilley.
  11. ^ Swain, Diana (19 May 2018). "Did former Canadian ISIS member lie to the New York Times or to CBC News?". CBC News.
  12. ^ Folkenflik, David (December 18, 2020). "'New York Times' Retracts Core Of Hit Podcast Series 'Caliphate' On ISIS". NPR. Retrieved December 18, 2020.
  13. ^ "Caliphate: NY Times loses awards for Islamic State podcast over false reporting". BBC News. 19 December 2020.

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